Students in Lori Wyer’s fifth grade class show off the flag and certificate they received from a Washington soldier after writing letter to him in Kuwait. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

The fifth graders in Lori Wyer’s class at Weddle Elementary School got an unexpected response from Brian Gentle after they started writing to the U.S. Navy officer at his base in Kuwait: a flag that flew over Camp Patriot, the Kuwait Naval Base.

We thought it best to let the kids tell the tale in their own words.

Q: How did you find out about Petty Officer Gentle?

A: Mrs. [Pam] Tancredi’s [Wyer’s teaching aide] daughter knew him. – Adam Kearns

Q: What did you write about in your letters to Petty Officer Gentle?

A: We wrote asking questions about his favorite hobbies and what he does in his free time and told him about what we do in class. -Kylene Stone

A: We asked him what he does there and why does he get sad and his favorite thing to do. – Reyna Orozco

Q: What did he answer?

A: He said what his favorite thing was playing sports, playing video games and go to the gym. – Josiah Kocean

A: His favorite food is carne asada steak with sour cream. – Jonny Barron

A: He answered all the questions that we asked. He wrote that this was his first time not being with family over Christmas and that the letters we wrote meant a lot. – Grace Painter

Q: What did you think of him sending you the flag?

A: It was an honor for it to come. [Wyer plans to get a display box for the flag and the certificate and put them both in her room.] – Jose Sepulveda

A: A lot of soldiers saluted it when it was over the base before they went to war. – Alex Marquez

Q: So, you’re writing to him again, what are you writing this time?

A: We were thanking him for giving us the flag and how much of an honor it is. – Emma John

Across the sea, the students letters are now on display for all the soldiers to see at Camp Patriot.

“Without support, such as you have given me, each one of us overseas can sometimes find it difficult to get through the day not knowing whether we are forgot about or missed back home,” wrote Gentle. Gentle is resident of Richland, Wash.